Friday, April 26, 2013


I've regaled you with the fascinating tale of my plumbing woes. And this adventure in beat the clock. Basically, since my plumbing is old and the main shut-off valve is in an area I don't have access to and which shuts off water to my side of the building, I accept less-than-perfection in my plumbing out of fear that attempting to fix a problem can make it worse. Even my minimalist approach has reached the end.

A slow leak from the tank of my bedroom bathroom toilet had been intermittent. When it stopped being intermittent, I put a small plastic container under it and emptied out the little bit of water every few days. But lately the volume increased and I emptied the container every day. I was starting to worry that the leak would widen and flood the floor while I was asleep our gone for the day. So I decided to tackle the problem.

In a perfect world, I'd have replaced the rusting bolt and put a new rubber seal in the tank, or something. But prior to my ownership, someone had covered the bolt head on the inside with some compound. I'd have to chisel off whatever that is to get to the bolt. That level of effort seemed to violate my rule of doing the least I can to avoid making the problem worse.

So I decided to use various caulks to cover the old seal with a new barrier. I turned off the water successfully and emptied the tank. I then covered knob of whatever. I even covered the other undamaged and non-leaking knob on the other side. Then I left the stuff to dry.

That was my mistake. (Actually, I should have tried to apply the seal patch through the standing water to avoid having to turn off the water. But my Wayback Machine is in the shop.) In the end, I turned the water back on yesterday evening so I'd have several hours of seeing if the expected slow drip would stop. But after hours of the seal being compressed because I'd turned off the water, it did not expand out to keep the seal with the water back on. Water just poured out. It filled a small plastic container in 5 minutes.

This, as the expression goes, was not good.

So for an hour I kept going back every five minutes to empty the cup, hoping it would slow down as it always had in the past. It did not. So I then took some of the caulk and wrapped it around the threads of the knob. That did slow the leak, but not by enough to make me feel better. But I could go ten minutes between emptying the container. That's how I watched the Red Wings game. I missed a couple goals that way.

By 10:00 p.m, the water seemed to be slowing down. With a larger metal container, I could go an hour. And it seemed to actually drip fast at some points rather than flow.

Yet sleeping could be a problem. So I set my alarm for an hour ahead and emptied the container 5 more times. I hoped that each time I awoke that the container would be lower and that I could sleep a bit more until the next emptying. That did not happen. The seal was not re-expanding to keep the water in.

So at 4:00 a.m., I gave up. I couldn't live with the need to get to the bathroom every hour. I turned the water off. The water stopped dripping so at least I had that going for me. Then I got 2-1/2 hours of glorious uninterrupted sleep.

Yes, I can technically flush the toilet by dumping in a bucket of water, but that is well below my 70% solution threshold.

Obviously, I've had lots of coffee this morning. I feel like I'd gone back to the days of having infants. A different form of a leak, I suppose.

So now I have to resort to the checkbook solution. I need to coordinate with my association to shut off the water and have a plumber come in and replace three toilet valves, at least two sink valves where I have slow faucet valves that I fear to address, and probably should have two other sink valves replaced and two shower water valves replaced while I'm at it. The water heater can wait until I replace that and to heck with the dishwasher that I don't even use.

This will no doubt cost me some decently sized bucks, but what can I do? Risk catastrophic failure somewhere? So I have a project for next week. If I had a PayPal link, this is the point where I'd beg for reader assistance. But fear not, this blog is a labor of love (or duty) and not my means of support.

Funny enough, my patch job actually fixed the leak I originally set out to fix. It remained dry as a bone throughout the valve drip ordeal. That has to count for something, doesn't it?